The Mystery, Crime, and Thriller Group discussion

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Group Read Discussions > April 2019 Group Read: The Circular Staircase, by Mary Roberts Rinehart

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message 1: by Nancy, Co-Moderator (new)

Nancy Oakes (quinnsmom) | 8557 comments Mod
Old this book may be, but you have to love a first line like this one:

"This is the story of how a middle-aged spinster lost her mind, deserted her domestic gods in the city, took a furnished house for the summer out of town, and found herself involved in one of those mysterious crimes that keep our newspapers and detective agencies happy and prosperous. "

If you haven't found a copy of the book yet, e-copies are available for free here:

http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/434

Looking forward to the discussion.


message 2: by Bill, Co-Moderator (new)

Bill | 5391 comments Mod
I've just started and enjoying so far.


message 3: by Nancy, Co-Moderator (new)

Nancy Oakes (quinnsmom) | 8557 comments Mod
Bill wrote: "I've just started and enjoying so far."

You're ahead of me!!


message 4: by Bill, Co-Moderator (new)

Bill | 5391 comments Mod
Nancy wrote: "Bill wrote: "I've just started and enjoying so far."

You're ahead of me!!"


I try.. :)


aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) | 1186 comments Started it today!


message 6: by Linda (new)

Linda (beaulieulinda117gmailcom) | 1350 comments Almost finished


message 7: by Nancy, Co-Moderator (new)

Nancy Oakes (quinnsmom) | 8557 comments Mod
I'm devoting part of my day to this book, so I should have something to say shortly. My favorite book of hers is The Album, in which the bodies start piling up quickly. Has anyone read her work before?


message 8: by Suzy (new)

Suzy (goodreadscomsuzy_hillard) | 643 comments I just ordered this from the library, so plan to join in on this conversation as well as moderate The Hound of the Baskervilles!


message 9: by Nancy, Co-Moderator (new)

Nancy Oakes (quinnsmom) | 8557 comments Mod
Well, I've just finished the first three chapters and I have to say that I'm definitely intrigued to discover what's going to happen next. So far, so good.


message 10: by Chris (new)

Chris | 235 comments Nancy wrote: "Old this book may be, but you have to love a first line like this one:

"This is the story of how a middle-aged spinster lost her mind, deserted her domestic gods in the city, took a furnished hous..."


I requested this from my library. They have to pull it out of storage, so hopefully by the end of the week I'll have it!


message 11: by Nancy, Co-Moderator (new)

Nancy Oakes (quinnsmom) | 8557 comments Mod
Chris wrote: "Nancy wrote: "Old this book may be, but you have to love a first line like this one:

"This is the story of how a middle-aged spinster lost her mind, deserted her domestic gods in the city, took a ..."


I took advantage of the e-book on this one. I don't normally like reading in that format, but sometimes I actually make exceptions.


message 12: by Portia (new)

Portia My copy arrives Thursday!


message 13: by Lisa (new)

Lisa | 92 comments I'm about 25% in and enjoying it. I like the author's voice for the main character, staunch and humorous, particularly considering her gender and the time period. Also relevant to the time period, some pretty bracing racist text - yikes.


message 14: by Nancy, Co-Moderator (new)

Nancy Oakes (quinnsmom) | 8557 comments Mod
Lisa wrote: "I'm about 25% in and enjoying it. I like the author's voice for the main character, staunch and humorous, particularly considering her gender and the time period. Also relevant to the time period, ..."

There is that, to be sure.


message 15: by Bill, Co-Moderator (new)

Bill | 5391 comments Mod
I'm about 25% of the way in. I've not read anything by Rinehart before. For some reason I'm having difficulty getting the decade in my mind. She hasn't wasted any time getting into the action. There is a creepiness about the setting and a constant menace so far. I like it.


message 16: by Lisa (new)

Lisa | 92 comments Bill wrote: "I'm about 25% of the way in. I've not read anything by Rinehart before. For some reason I'm having difficulty getting the decade in my mind. She hasn't wasted any time getting into the action. Ther..."

Yes - we got right into the thick of it; I like that too.


message 17: by Suzy (new)

Suzy (goodreadscomsuzy_hillard) | 643 comments I was wondering if there was a movie based on this - it sounds familiar. But after looking the movie is The Spiral Staircase based on a different book.


message 18: by Jen (new)

Jen | 24 comments I'm really enjoying this so far!


message 19: by Nancy, Co-Moderator (new)

Nancy Oakes (quinnsmom) | 8557 comments Mod
Suzy wrote: "I was wondering if there was a movie based on this - it sounds familiar. But after looking the movie is The Spiral Staircase based on a different book."

That's a good book, by the way. The movie actually doesn't quite do it justice!


message 20: by Nancy, Co-Moderator (new)

Nancy Oakes (quinnsmom) | 8557 comments Mod
So now I'm at the 25% mark, and really having fun with this book. There's enough of a muddle to make it interesting but I'm appreciating the questions Rinehart leaves so that we really don't miss any plot points.

I have to abandon the book for today but I'll catch up tomorrow.


message 21: by Nancy, Co-Moderator (new)

Nancy Oakes (quinnsmom) | 8557 comments Mod
Jen wrote: "I'm really enjoying this so far!"

Me too!


message 22: by Patty (new)

Patty | 2727 comments I forgot to download the book on my reader! Wait for me!


message 23: by Patty (new)

Patty | 2727 comments What an opening paragraph! I also learned a new word: hegira: any flight or journey to a more desirable or congenial place. Is her taking of a country house going to be her hegira? I think not! Ba-ha-ha-ha-ha!


message 24: by Nancy, Co-Moderator (new)

Nancy Oakes (quinnsmom) | 8557 comments Mod
Patty wrote: "What an opening paragraph! I also learned a new word: hegira: any flight or journey to a more desirable or congenial place. Is her taking of a country house going to be her hegira? I think not! Ba-..."

I thought it was cool that she used that term. Hegira (hijrah) is the original term describing Muhammad's flight from Mecca to Medina to avoid persecution. So it is really is a sort of a contradictory usage here.


message 25: by Patty (new)

Patty | 2727 comments Ah! But “persecution” can be a subjective thing. In her case, taking on her brother’s kids—at least financially; never seeming to form an emotional bond. The thought of a new beginning in a different/idealized setting. Of course, I’ve only read one page. I’m nearing the end of a book that I’m spending too much time on. I need to get it out of the way. Then I can actually sit back and relax with this one.


aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) | 1186 comments It is unexpectedly humorous!


message 27: by Nancy, Co-Moderator (new)

Nancy Oakes (quinnsmom) | 8557 comments Mod
aPriL does feral sometimes wrote: "It is unexpectedly humorous!"

I know! I was pleasantly surprised, and I'm only a quarter of the way through it. I'll be picking it up again tomorrow.


message 28: by Tom (last edited Apr 03, 2019 03:31PM) (new)

Tom Mathews | 975 comments If anyone would like to listen to a free audio version of this book, it was recorded last year by B.J. Harrison at the Classic Tales Podcast, episodes 594 to 603. Here's the link.
http://classictales.libsyn.com/


message 29: by Nancy, Co-Moderator (new)

Nancy Oakes (quinnsmom) | 8557 comments Mod
Tom wrote: "If anyone would like to listen to a free audio version of this book, it was recorded last year by B.J. Harrison at the Classic Tales Podcast, episodes 594 to 603. Here's the link.
http://classictal..."


Aren't you sweet!! Thank you, Tom. I'm sure someone will be happy to take you up on it.


message 30: by Nancy, Co-Moderator (new)

Nancy Oakes (quinnsmom) | 8557 comments Mod
If you've ever wondered about "wrinkle eradicators" (chapter 9)

https://www.cosmeticsandskin.com/aba/...

I seriously laughed when I looked this up.


message 31: by Suzy (new)

Suzy (goodreadscomsuzy_hillard) | 643 comments This just came in at the library - can't wait to get to it after reading all the comments :)


aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) | 1186 comments Nancy wrote: "If you've ever wondered about "wrinkle eradicators" (chapter 9)

https://www.cosmeticsandskin.com/aba/...

I seriously laughed when I looked this up."


omg.


message 33: by Nancy, Co-Moderator (new)

Nancy Oakes (quinnsmom) | 8557 comments Mod
aPriL does feral sometimes wrote: "Nancy wrote: "If you've ever wondered about "wrinkle eradicators" (chapter 9)

https://www.cosmeticsandskin.com/aba/...

I seriously laughed when I looked this up."

omg."


:)


message 35: by Nancy, Co-Moderator (new)

Nancy Oakes (quinnsmom) | 8557 comments Mod
Actually, my personal favorite on that page was the "Helena Rubenstein Beautilift Masque made from pink silk." I do believe I'd find myself in a different bedroom if I wore that to sleep in. LOL


message 36: by Nancy, Co-Moderator (new)

Nancy Oakes (quinnsmom) | 8557 comments Mod
Portia wrote: "https://www.capitalskinlaser.com/kybe......"

I'll pass, thanks.
:)


message 37: by Lisa (new)

Lisa | 92 comments Patty wrote: "What an opening paragraph! I also learned a new word: hegira: any flight or journey to a more desirable or congenial place. Is her taking of a country house going to be her hegira? I think not! Ba-..."

I liked it too, and I've found myself using my dictionary a couple of times during this read. Very cool :)


message 38: by Bill, Co-Moderator (new)

Bill | 5391 comments Mod
I finished this morning and will add my review to the spoilers thread when I've written it. Enjoyable all around although I did feel at times like there was too much going on. Loved the relationship between Rachel and Liddie. I thought it was great. Lots of humor. I keep trying to picture what Rachel means by tying her skirts up around her head.... Strange images abound..


message 39: by Patty (new)

Patty | 2727 comments Up to chapter 9, and must say how refreshing it is to have an intelligent police detective.


message 40: by Bill, Co-Moderator (new)

Bill | 5391 comments Mod
Patty wrote: "Up to chapter 9, and must say how refreshing it is to have an intelligent police detective."

I liked him too.


message 41: by Nancy, Co-Moderator (new)

Nancy Oakes (quinnsmom) | 8557 comments Mod
at the halfway point (through Chapter XV). I don't mind reading this book slowly -- there's a lot to put together in my head every so often. Actually, that's why I don't whiz through books, so I can take time to think about them at every stopping point.


message 42: by Patty (new)

Patty | 2727 comments Nancy, from someone who doesn’t whiz through books, you read through a lot of books.

An interesting aspect is the writing of Thomas’ dialogue in dialect (unsure how to label said dialect), and the descriptions of his skittish and superstitious nature. Where others have fear, he has “tokens” of death.


message 43: by Nancy, Co-Moderator (new)

Nancy Oakes (quinnsmom) | 8557 comments Mod
Patty wrote: "Nancy, from someone who doesn’t whiz through books, you read through a lot of books.

An interesting aspect is the writing of Thomas’ dialogue in dialect (unsure how to label said dialect), and th..."


It's due to years of training in reading for content and ideas in crunch-time mode from studying philosophy and history in grad school. Nowadays I've slowed way way down, believe it or not.


message 44: by MissLemon (new)

MissLemon  (misslemon) | 252 comments About half way through and wishing I had more time as I really want to binge read to find out what's going on!

I'm wondering if we have an unreliable narrator here ( but then I nearly always do !)

Thanks for nominating Nancy, really enjoying this 🙂


message 45: by Nancy, Co-Moderator (new)

Nancy Oakes (quinnsmom) | 8557 comments Mod
Carolyn wrote: "About half way through and wishing I had more time as I really want to binge read to find out what's going on!

I'm wondering if we have an unreliable narrator here ( but then I nearly always do !..."


You're very welcome, Carolyn. I think what I like most about it is that it's a true, old-fashioned mystery, uncluttered with a lot of extraneous stuff.

Binge read -- who has the time? My to do list from yesterday alone kept me busy from like 10 until 4:30! I didn't get back to my other book until bedtime.


message 46: by Chris (new)

Chris | 235 comments Patty wrote: "What an opening paragraph! I also learned a new word: hegira: any flight or journey to a more desirable or congenial place. Is her taking of a country house going to be her hegira? I think not! Ba-..."

I agree, and Hegira was a new word for me also.


message 47: by Chris (new)

Chris | 235 comments Lisa wrote: "Also relevant to the time period, some pretty bracing racist text - yikes Are you referring to the way the character & dialogue of Thomas is portrayed? (I'm only on chap 4)


message 48: by Chris (new)

Chris | 235 comments I've only just started. But just wondering about the title. Why are so many of us enamored with circular staircases? They are visually appealing to me and fun. Do they evoke something grand? Or in this novel something mysterious?


message 49: by Lisa (new)

Lisa | 92 comments Chapter 3. "As for Thomas and his forebodings, it was always my belief that a Negro is one part thief, one part pigment, and the rest superstition." YOW.


message 50: by Nancy, Co-Moderator (new)

Nancy Oakes (quinnsmom) | 8557 comments Mod
Chris wrote: "Lisa wrote: "Also relevant to the time period, some pretty bracing racist text - yikes Are you referring to the way the character & dialogue of Thomas is portrayed? (I'm only on chap 4)"

re racism here: I'm just going to say this. Later, Rachel will only have lovely and kind things to say about Thomas, so maybe it's the case that it was standard usage of the day, not meant in any negative connotations. Feel free to argue, but that's my thought here.


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